Tim Cone on top of SBP wish list for SEA Games coach
Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone leads a very short list of candidates being eyed by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to handle the national squad that will go for the gold medal in the 30th Southeast Asian Games that the country will host later this year.
“He’s a candidate,” said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas chair emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan, who added that for the SEA Games, the national basketball federation is “definitely [eyeing] a homegrown coach.”
“But he need not be a Filipino,” added Panglinan in an interview Thursday.
“Tim Cone is an excellent coach but it will also depend on the mix of players,” Panglinan said, adding that “by convenience, the PBA is probably the best [talent pool] for the SEA Games.”
It may seem as an overkill to pepper the national squad to the biennial meet with PBA pros, but the SBP is dead set on making the SEA Games the jump-off point of a national program left in disarray after a disastrous stint in the recent Fiba World Cup, where the Philippines finished last among 32 participating countries.
“We have to win this one,” Panglinan said. “It might save the year.”
Pangilinan has apologized to the public for Gilas Pilipinas’ performance in the World Cup and has vowed to reboot the program with an eye toward the 2023 and 2027 World Cup editions, but the SBP understands the urgency of forming a formidable five for the SEA Games amid reports that other neighboring countries are planning to boost their rosters for the regional meet by naturalizing players.
“We have to choose the coach first,” said SBP president Al Panlilio.
The SBP is also looking at Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin and former TNT star and current San Miguel Beer assistant Jimmy Alapag as other potential candidates. But it looks as though Cone, a two-time Grand Slam coach who owns the most PBA titles, has the inside track.
“The first order would be to talk to him, if he’s willing and I can imagine he would be,” said Panglinan. “Then we’d have to talk to San Miguel (to make sure) it doesn’t interfere with their PBA schedule.”
The SBP is expected to make the decision on the coach over the weekend.
Panlilio said the SBP has already forwarded a pool of potential players for the SEA Games but he and executive director Sonny Barrios added that the coach will have a free hand to restructure the list and eventually craft the final roster.
The SBP is confident that if Cone would accept the position, too PBA players would line up to make the SEA Games squad.
“Hatak yang si Tim Cone,” Pangilinan said.
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